THOUSANDS gathered at an exhibition in Weymouth to see the archaeological treasures unearthed during building of the town’s Relief Road.

The Pavilion Ocean Room was transformed into an Aladdin’s Cave of ancient bones, Iron Age pottery, jewellery and other finds.

Crowds filled the hall keen to learn more about the discoveries, including the Viking remains found in a mass grave at the top of Ridgeway.

Dorset County Council Senior Archaeologist Steve Wallis said he never expected the exhibition to have such a big turnout. He said: “We had over 1,000 people in the first two hours yesterday, which is amazing.

“We were counting on a good turn out because we know people round here are interested in archaeology, but we weren’t expecting anything like this.

“The findings of the Vikings are the main attraction because it is so unusual.”

David Score, project manager for Oxford Archaeology which has been leading the digs, was also delighted with the response to the exhibition so far.

He said: “It’s amazing how many people turned up and how much local interest there has been.

“As an archaeologist I think that understanding and studying the past is important so it’s very encouraging to see that lots of people in Dorset are also interested.

“Dorset has a very rich archaeological history and when something like this happens it really shows there is a massive interest.”

Sharon Macdonald, 36, from Weymouth visited the exhibition with her son Daniel, 13.

Mrs Macdonald said: “Because all the findings have been discovered locally it’s interesting to see and know more about where we live.

“Living in such modern times, it’s nice to be able to find out about how it was back then.”

Daniel added: “It’s really interesting – I’m most interested in the human bones.”

Maureen Berkley, 70, from Chickerell said: “I think it was a fantastic site to find and for Weymouth it’s brilliant.

“It will go down in history and I have to say I am very proud to live here.”

Jo Crane, 57, travelled with his wife from Christchurch to see the findings on show. He said: “We belong to two archaeological groups in Dorset so it’s really quite fascinating.”

Before construction work on the relief road began, Oxford Archaeology conducted a thorough investigation of the line of the road through Ridgeway.

It was the largest investigation of the Ridgeway for many years with an area of 50,000 square metres excavated between October and December 2008.